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Old 01-23-2010, 12:28 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn, New York
445 posts, read 1,247,067 times
Reputation: 525

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I have a problem with walking Louie: he tends to run at people. I'm strong enough to keep him under control but I hate having to yank the leash all the time and I wish I could break him of this habit. Louie belongs to my son, who lives with us, but due to our different schedules I have to walk Louie several times a week.

Louie's a very social dog. He loves people and never met a stranger. When he was a little puppy, he used to turn around and try to follow random people on the street. A year later, he's a full-grown English Bulldog whose fierce appearance belies his gentle nature. We live in a busy neighborhood of Brooklyn so there are generally a lot of people on the street when I walk him.

Has anyone else here had this problem? I'd greatly appreciate your suggestions.
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Old 01-23-2010, 02:45 PM
 
7,079 posts, read 34,539,622 times
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First, whatever happens, EVERYONE in the household needs to be consistent and do the same thing.

I would suggest getting some VERY special treats (chicken, cheese or steak) in a baggie and putting them in your pocket on walks. The reason you need special treats (not just any old cookie) is that you need to CHANGE his behavior and he should get these treats ONLY on walks.

You probably already know how near someone else can get before he goes crazy. That's his trigger distance. Start working with him when the person is FARTHER than the trigger distance. When you see someone coming, have him SIT and maintain the sit. In the beginning you might have to keep shoveling the treats in him as the person passes and tell him what a GOOD BOY he is, but he'll get the idea eventually that when someone comes, he SITS. As he gets more used to this, start his sit when the person is a little bit closer. When you're willing to bet $5 that he'll sit when the person is that same distance, then you can start the sit a little bit closer than THAT. You get the idea.

Eventually, what you want is for him to automatically sit (or at least sit with a little cue from you). Yanking on the leash is NOT the way to go. It's never going to work. You have to make being a good boy more rewarding than straining to get to a person.
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Old 01-23-2010, 03:05 PM
 
214 posts, read 604,180 times
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Two words....warm hot dogs.

Take a cooked hot dog, still warm, cut it up into little pieces, and keep it in a bait bag, or plastic baggy in your pocket when you walk him. When he sees a person or other dog and starts to pull, say the command "Watch me!" in an excited voice. As soon as he turns his attention to you, and makes eye contact give him a piece of hot dog, and praise him. You may first have to show him the hotdog so he understands you have it....then hold it up by your face so he looks at you. You need to make yourself more interesting than the distraction. Its also important to understand that any old treat won't work....a milkbone biscuit often cannot compete with the excitement of meeting someone new. However, I have never met a dog that would not give a piece of warm hot dog their full attention.

Keep practicing, and eventually when you say "watch me!", he should automatically stop what he is doing and look up and focus on you, expecting his treat. You can slowly begin to fade the reinforcement, giving him a treat only occasionally. You should be able to train him to walk past distractions by focusing on you. It takes a bit of time and patience, but it works. Its also a helpful command in many situations, and can help you in other areas of training. Sometimes, if my dog is misbehaving and forgetting his leash manners, I will give him the "watch me" command, and then make him sit/stay, and practice his self-control. Its impossible to get an excited dog to sit/stay and calm down, if he won't even look at you first, so "watch me" can be really helpful.

My only other advice...please try to resist the allure of some TV personalities who would handle this situation by using a choke chain to "pop" the dog and "teach him who is the pack leader", etc. etc. Using pain and fear to train an animal may give you quick results short term, but can cause serious behavior problems in the long run. English bulldogs, being bracyocephalic, have many breathing problems, and I would be concerned over damage to the dogs trachea using a choke chain "correction".

Good luck with your training!
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Old 01-23-2010, 03:07 PM
 
214 posts, read 604,180 times
Reputation: 444
Viralmd, we must have posted at the same time! We pretty much said the same thing!
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Old 01-23-2010, 04:43 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn, New York
445 posts, read 1,247,067 times
Reputation: 525
Great suggestions - thanks so much! You are both right that ordinary treats don't cut it anymore - I used to use them when he was a puppy just to get him to walk (he would lie down in the middle of the sidewalk refusing to budge - v. embarrassing). Warm hotdogs and chicken it is then!

I would never use a choke chain on Louie. It's just an ordinary nylon collar but still I feel bad having to yank him away from people. Viralmd makes a good point that I will have to get the other members of the family with the program. This is one of the problems with dog-training, I've found.
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Old 01-23-2010, 04:58 PM
 
7,079 posts, read 34,539,622 times
Reputation: 4038
I'm not a fan of hot dogs. Too much salt and too much fat. If you MUST use hot dogs, cut one into about 50 (yes, 50) little 'coins.'

Boil some water and dump in the coins and boil them for about five minutes. That removes a LOT of the salt and some of the fat.

The last thing a brachycephalic dog needs is more fat and salt...
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Old 01-23-2010, 05:18 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn, New York
445 posts, read 1,247,067 times
Reputation: 525
Quote:
Originally Posted by Viralmd View Post
I'm not a fan of hot dogs. Too much salt and too much fat. If you MUST use hot dogs, cut one into about 50 (yes, 50) little 'coins.'

Boil some water and dump in the coins and boil them for about five minutes. That removes a LOT of the salt and some of the fat.

The last thing a brachycephalic dog needs is more fat and salt...
True dat. I don't even know if Louie likes hot dogs. I know he loves chicken and turkey, which are rare treats for him (but OMG, he went crazy with turkey leftovers at Thanksgiving). Perhaps I should stick to that.
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